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The Whole Story

National Geographic
(September 1932), 358-67.



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Page 1

The Address of Acceptance

Hazards Not Quite So Manifest as Described


Page 2

Menaced by the Dread Ice Hazard

Three Types of Compasses Showed the Way


Page 3
Not Troubled by Drowsiness


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The Society's Special Medal Awarded to Amelia Earhart
(continued)

Menaced by the Dread Ice Hazard
"I did not get out of the storm area. In fact, I continued in it until daylight came. When I tried to climb out, I picked up considerable ice, and ice is a hazard which all flyers dread.

"In order to get out of the ice area, I came down. Aviators have no other protection, except to get out of the particular temperature zone where ice forms.  I went down until I could see the white caps breaking in the darkness. If it had been a smooth sea, I might have gone too far.

"As my altimeter was out of commission, I could not tell whether I was 50 feet off the water or 150 (50 meters). I only knew I was too close; so I tried to climb through again, and again picked up ice, and concluded that I must fly under the altitude, whatever it was, where I collected ice, and over the locality where I thought the water waited.
 
"When daylight came I could see on my wings traces of the ice which had gathered—droplets of water and very small frozen particles. Probably, if I had been able to see what was happening on the outside during the night, I would have had heart failure then and there; but, as I could not see, I carried on.

Three Types of Compasses Showed the Way

"Instrument flying is easier sometimes than trying to see an obscure horizon. By instrument flying I mean that type of flying in which the pilot cannot see a horizon—cannot see outside his cockpit, probably. It is a curious fact that our sense of position in space sometimes depends on our being aware of the horizon. A flyer in a fog is just as blind as if he had a bandage tied over his eyes, and his unaided senses may give him the incorrect impressions. Modern instruments have been invented to help our faulty senses under such conditions.

"The instruments I had for flying were three different types of compasses—one a simple magnetic compass, the other an aperiodic, and a third a directional gyro, which has to be set about every 20 minutes with one of the others as checks. It is, by the way, one of the best blind-flying instruments I know.

"I think that instrument flying will be a significant step in aviation. With it developed, I think the weather will not hinder flying any more than it does any other means of transportation. After all, trains are stalled by washouts and ships by fogs; so their performance isn't perfect either. Probably more weather information, possibly through mid-ocean stations, will add further to aviation's reliability.

"In my opinion, any expedition owes 60 per cent of its success to the preparation beforehand. I was fortunate in having Bernt Balchen, the great Norwegian flyer, who was with Admiral Byrd at the South Pole, to help me with my preparations. In fact, he flew me to Harbour Grace to save me fatigue before the actual take-off.

"The motor I had was a super-charged Pratt and Whitney 'Wasp,' developing about 500 horsepower. I carried 420 gallons (1,600 liters) of gasoline. I had flown my plane for three years; so I really ought to know it and it ought to know me. Of course, I had the advantage of having crossed once before and of knowing something of the conditions which were inevitable—that no one can expect good weather over the Atlantic for 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers).

"For food I carried a very simple ration—tomato juice. I think that serves as food and drink, and I used just a few swallows of it. I had no sandwiches or anything of that sort with me. The fact is, one doesn't think much about food on such a journey.


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